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Is a Diagnosis "Just a Label"?

Updated: Sep 30, 2018

What does it mean to have a mental health disorder? Is a diagnosis just a way to stigmatize or label a person who is struggling emotionally? What’s behind a diagnosis?

Etiology is the study of causation; understanding the application of etiology for each diagnosis is very important when working with children and adolescents and attempting to identify their condition or problem. Kearney talks about this in his book Casebook in Child Behavior Disorders.

Knowing the etiology of diagnoses is extremely important in both diagnosing clients and treating them. This is true for all clients, however, it is especially true for children because their parents, teachers, and other caretakers have a huge impact on the outcome of the child’s recovery. Children are often misdiagnosed and are then stigmatized by the diagnosis, this does not promote their recovery or quality of life. Even when a child is properly diagnosed, it is still crucial for caretakers to understand the etiology of the diagnosis and the most beneficial ways to interact with the child so he or she can thrive.

Mental health disorders are common and treatable at any and all ages, one cannot be too young or too old to be struggling with a psychological disorder. Regardless of the nature of one’s mental health issues, treatment to help alleviate these symptoms are available. Therapists are mental health professionals, trained to diagnose and treat individuals, couples, and families within the context of relational issues, emotional disorders, and mental health.

If you think you or a loved one is suffering due to a psychological disorder, I strongly encourage you to seek help from a professional in your area. It is imperative to obtain a proper diagnosis in order to receive treatment suited to your needs. Working on struggles without first identifying and understanding them is difficult. Having a diagnosis is not about a “label”, but rather it helps to conceptualize the feelings and actions you may be feeling and concerned about, as well as providing you with tools and techniques in order to learn to deal with these symptoms effectively.

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